At mid-year, we take a look back at the accomplishments of AIA Virginia this year was shared with the membership during our virtual membership meeting on June 16, 2017. First and most transformational, the organization has implemented the strategic plan as the focus of board and council meeting agendas giving all board members the ability to engage and have a voice in a meaningful way.

2017 AIA President Bill Brown, AIA

With thanks to Maggie Shubert, AIA, Marshall Dreiling, and our AIA Virginia staff, we launched a very successful inaugural Art of Practice Conference which will be an annual alternating companion event to the Design Forum. This opportunity brought practitioners from around the state to share ideas on the business practice of architecture. To recognize the different climates we work within we initiated the creation of a small firm roundtable and a mid-size firm roundtable. Continuation of the large firm roundtable which had been convened three years ago elevated the conversation of how AIA Virginia is of value and relevant to these firms in light of our needing their continued support with the planned phase-out of supplemental dues.

Through our Government Advocacy Council, we continued our successful legislative activities. Efforts lead by Rhea George, Hon. AIA Virginia guided the development and approval by the board in our June 16th meeting of AIA Virginia’s Directory of Public Policy and Position Statements. Also, I want to highlight that all statewide legislators and the three elected offices are up for election this year so support our PAC so that we can continue our valuable relationships with incumbents that have worked toward our mutual vision of the built environment in Virginia.

Under the guidance of Nick Vlattas, AIA, we conducted a successful nationwide search for a new EVP and have appointed the amazing Corey Clayborne, AIA. His commitment to the service to the profession and to the individual members that make up our AIA family is unparalleled. As July starts he has already begun his position and is implementing his 30/60/90 day plan. We see great things to come in our collective future with Corey at the helm!

This is a special moment in time for AIA Virginia as the seasons change we are experiencing a notable change ourselves. This past June 30th marked the departure of our esteemed EVP and my friend, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, and the arrival of Corey Clayborne, AIA, at this same post. I can’t think of two persons that have been and are so passionate, focused and exemplary to lead our organization. Together AIA Virginia has re-envisioned and transformed the organization under Helene’s leadership to be member focused, transparent in our governance, financially sustainable and of value to the architects in the Commonwealth. There is a seamless transition underway that warrants a great confidence in the organization.

For her part, Helene has gone far above and beyond the call of duty in her role as leader. She has used her nurturing spirit and passion for architecture to strengthen our organizations working tirelessly to effect positive change. I want to share a personal side of saying farewell to my friend Helene as she and I were in the same architecture class at Virginia Tech and I had the privilege of speaking for AIA Virginia at the recent Branch Museum event to recognize her tireless service to our organizations. When Helene ran for president of the American Institute of Architects, she did so on a platform of cultural change. As Virginia architects watched with pride at her inauguration in 2014, we were confident in her leadership and her capacity as a change-maker for our National organization. She brought this same spirit to AIA Virginia and The Branch and both organizations are better for it.

Throughout her career, Helene has dedicated herself to mentoring young professionals and advocating on their behalf. As the volunteer leaders of AIA Virginia pondered a fitting way to acknowledge her contributions to our profession, we could think of no more appropriate recognition than the naming of the Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA Studio. This space at the Branch will permanently honor Helene’s legacy by fostering the cultivation of interns at the cusp of their professional lives. This cause has been a cornerstone of Helene’s professional career, and The Studio will be used to nurture the growth and development of the many interns who come to The Branch each year. It is a fitting symbol to honor her dedication to and support of both the profession of architecture and The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design.

Take care, my friend!

Bill Brown, AIA
2017 President AIA Virginia

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